It's so easy to spend money. Even ordering take-out or meeting a friend for a drink can be at least $15 if you're not careful. I've been saying I want to get my hair done for months now. Even MG commented this weekend that "your hair is much darker on top than on the bottom"...he means well. I have been wanting a pair of black boots for 2 winter seasons. I want to get MG tickets to when the Packers play the Giants for his birthday. I want MG to fly out for New Years so we can watch the ball drop in Time Square. I want a new purse. I want to see Ides of March...hello George and Ryan in one movie...yum! The list could go on and on and on.
However, I've splurged way too much lately and it has gone out of my means...I'm a broken record, I know. I make a little extra babysitting and all discipline goes out the window. This week my goal is both out of necessity and to form a long-term habit: I want to go on a spending diet.
Anna at And Then She Saved did both a spending fast and a spending diet. I am not ready to do a complete fast but I like her approach and want to ease into it. Basically Anna makes a list of the month's necessities and allots money for them. Everything else is cut out. Then at the end of the month, she makes a big heaping dent in her debt with all the money she has left over. She got herself completely out of debt in 15 months and I'm sure her savings has skyrocketed since then.
I am not very good at planning a whole month in advance so I will do this strategy by paycheck (bi-weekly). At the end of each week, I will put 75% towards debt/savings and 25% towards a reward for me (see, told you I'm not ready for a total fast. My entire New York social life would come to an instant halt so a diet will have to work).
My strategy to make this work is to be resourceful and use what I have or what's on sale. I typically have apples and peanut butter for breakfast every day but if I run out and have cereal on hand instead, I'll eat that. If I have random ingredients in the cabinets, I will research recipes or figure out what to make instead of buying whatever I want. Additionally, I will work on developing more will power. When M wants to order Thai food and asks if I want any, I have to say "no" and cook what I have or get something much cheaper at the grocery store. This is not easy to do but it's just really not worth it. I will allow myself one take-out meal per paycheck so I will learn to use it wisely yet not deprive myself of some of my favorite New York eats.
There will always be something new I want, even if I purchase everything on my wishlist. I need to tame my want list and be thankful for what I have: a roof over my head, a few meals a day, PLENTY of clothes, great friends and family and a phone/computer to keep in touch with them all, lots of books and entertainment. The list could go on for a while.
I'm mostly taking the approach of the "no spend challenge" until I really need something. The moment I get it in my head that I can spend a little, I will start to spend a lot. A spending diet won't be easy so please send all of your extra willpower my way. I have to hold myself accountable for my spending because both my debt and my savings account can't keep taking hits like this.
So far so good, I just turned down a Starbucks trip with my co-worker to drink the free work coffee instead.